The Meatheads of the Week








Officer Sauls and Investigator Cook were on water patrol on the Apalachicola River when a vessel running with no navigation lights headed towards the officers. The officers had to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision. Upon stopping the vessel, they detected a strong odor of alcoholic beverages. There were beer cans all over the deck of the vessel including one in the operator’s hand. The operator was being difficult and could not stand up on the deck. The operator failed the field sobriety tasks and was arrested for operating a vessel while impaired. He was transported to the Franklin County Jail where he refused to submit a breath test and sign any documents.




Officer Bartlett was on vessel patrol in the Crab Island area when he was dispatched to a boating accident. The accident involved two anchored vessels, a 24-foot rented Harris pontoon and a 25‑foot Mako. The officer noted there was a strong outgoing current. The operator of the rental pontoon was positioning the boat attempting to drop anchor. The pontoon drifted due to the strong current and struck the anchored Mako. The officer determined the primary cause of the accident was the operator’s inexperience with operating a vessel in waters affected by tidal current. There were no injuries reported in this incident.


Officer Corbin was on vessel patrol conducting boating safety and state fisheries inspections in the Destin Pass/Harbor. The officer saw a known local charter boat returning from the Gulf of Mexico from a fishing trip. The officer conducted a state license and fisheries inspection. The inspection revealed the owner/operator had an expired 10 plus state charter fishing license. The operator was issued a citation for an expired license.


Officers Corbin and Wilkenson were on vessel patrol conducting boating safety and state fisheries inspections in the Destin Pass/Harbor. The officers saw a boat returning from the Gulf of Mexico with rods and reels displayed. The officers stopped the boat and conducted a fisheries inspection. The vessel displayed an out-of-state vessel registration. The inspection revealed three undersized red snapper. The operator was cited and issued a notice to appear citation.


Officers Pifer and Bartlett were on vessel patrol conducting boating safety and state fisheries inspections in the Destin Pass/Harbor. The officers saw a boat returning from the Gulf of Mexico with rods and reels displayed. The officers stopped the boat and conducted a fisheries inspection. The inspection revealed two gray triggerfish, which is currently out of season in both state and federal waters. The operator stated he did not know triggerfish was out of season. The officer saw a current FWC fishing regulation guide on the boat. The operator was cited and issued a notice to appear citation.


Okaloosa County officers participated in Operation Dry Water, a national campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence (BUI). The officers took initiative to educate the boating public of the dangers of boating while impaired. The officers took a zero-tolerance approach. Their efforts resulted in five BUI arrests, 382 vessel inspections, 1,439 public contacts, 24 issued boating safety violations, 28 boating safety written warnings, 16 citations for possession of alcoholic beverage under the age 21 and investigation of 2 boating accidents with injuries. The officers accumulated a total 85 hours of vessel patrol.




Officers Lewis and Jernigan were patrolling in the Blackwater State Forest when they saw a truck parked well beyond established barricades at a primitive campsite. The owner of the truck told the officers that he wanted his truck parked in his campsite. The vehicle damaged the trail and creek bank and caused deep ruts along its path. The man was charged with damaging state lands with a motor vehicle.


Officer Ramos was on vessel patrol in the Quiet Water beach area of the Santa Rosa Sound when he saw a pontoon boat with many people on board. After conducting a boating safety inspection on the vessel with 15 passengers, it was determined the boat had been rented from a local livery and the livery did not ensure the occupants had sufficient safety equipment. The livery had only provided 14 adult Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s) on board for the 15 passengers. Eight passengers were children, one of which was a toddler who is required to wear a PFD while the vessel is underway. The livery did not provide any children’s PFD’s with the rental pontoon. Officer Ramos contacted the livery and issued a criminal citation for leasing, hiring, or renting a vessel without the proper safety equipment.


While on late-night vessel patrol in the Intercostal Waterway, Officer Ramos stopped a boat with eight men on board returning from an offshore fishing trip to conduct a boating safety and resource inspection. The boat was a for-hire charter boat and had 14 red snapper in the fish cooler. After determining that only six of the passengers paid for the charter trip, Officer Ramos inquired why there were 14 red snapper in the cooler when the vessel limit was 12. The captain advised that his deckhand kept two fish for himself. Officer Ramos checked the captain’s history and confirmed that he had been previously charged with other fisheries violations and knew that the charter boat crew on a commercial trip cannot keep a recreational limit of red snapper for themselves. The individual was cited accordingly.




Officer Gore was on patrol in the Econfina Wildlife Management Area (WMA) when he saw a spotlight being shined in a manner that can disclose wildlife from a vehicle. Upon conducting a traffic stop, he determined that the three subjects were consuming alcohol and saw a bag of cannabis on the center console. He started identifying the subjects. After providing a name and date of birth, one subject ran. Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies and Lieutenant Walsingham responded to assist. Officer Gore deployed K-9 Kane and tracked the subject for approximately one hour until the track went cold. Methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia were found in the vehicle. The two remaining subjects were arrested and transported to the Washington County Jail for possession of methamphetamine, possession of cannabis less than 20 grams, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The subject who fled was positively identified and determined to have numerous outstanding felony warrants. New warrants will be obtained for resisting an officer without violence and the same charges as the other occupants of the vehicle.









Officer Christmas was on routine patrol when he saw an open gate to a hunting club. He saw a vehicle parked down a wooded road with the brake lights on. Officer Christmas proceeded to go and check the vehicle and the wellbeing of the occupant. A female was seen sitting in the driver’s seat who stated she had just parked there to read a book. Officer Christmas informed the lady she was trespassing on private property. He requested identification from the driver and noticed she seemed very nervous. Officer Christmas also noticed the driver was clutching something in her left hand and then threw it on the console of the vehicle as she went to obtain her ID. The item the driver threw on the console was a clear baggie that had a white powdery substance. The item tested positive as cocaine, and the driver was arrested and booked into the Duval County Jail. The cocaine was seized as evidence.


While on patrol, Resource Protection Officer Sweat and Investigator Holleman saw a man empty the contents of a blue crab trap into his vessel. When contact was made, the man stated that he was baiting his traps but the information on the traps were not consistent with his information. The man later admitted he was checking his and his wife’s traps. After pulling the traps, it was discovered that the man was working fourteen traps as a recreational trapper. He was issued three warnings on trap requirements and a citation for harvesting blue crabs as a recreational trapper with more than five traps.




Officer Nichols and Lieutenant Kiss responded to a boating accident with an injury at Big Shoals State Park. Upon arrival, they learned that a female kayaker capsized and struck her ankle on a rock, possibly breaking it. EMS and Fire Department personnel responded and treated the victim. Officer Nichols submitted a boating accident report of the details.




Lieutenant Kiss received a call for assistance for a man who was overcome with heat exhaustion while hiking the trails at Gar Pond on water management district land. Upon arrival, Lieutenant Kiss assisted officers from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and EMS personnel in bringing the wary man to safety.


Officer Nichols responded to a hit-and-run accident while he was working at Ichetucknee State Park. Upon arrival, Officer Nichols saw damage done to the rear quarter panel of a visitor passenger car. The suspect vehicle fled the scene and there were no witnesses. Officer Nichols submitted a traffic crash report of the details.






During one day of Operation Dry Water, Jacksonville Squads divided and focused on late-afternoon patrol of boaters returning to the ramps at dusk. In a two-hour period, four impaired boaters were identified, arrested and booked for BUI. Officers Stuhr, Lumpkin and Christmas made the BUI arrests. Additionally, Officer Christmas made a felony arrest on a man in possession of powdered cocaine and several resource misdemeanors were issued. One boating accident investigation resulted in criminal charges to the owner for failure to report a boating accident and leaving a vessel abandoned in the water.









While on water patrol in the Banana River, Officers Balgo and Graves saw two individuals walking along the shoreline with two buckets. Officer Graves beached the vessel along the shoreline while Officer Balgo tried to make contact with the individuals. Officer Balgo saw a silver, F-150 truck drive off under the causeway. Two buckets full of undersized fish were in the bushes. Officer Graves drove the vessel away from the buckets to try and locate the F-150 while Officer Balgo hid in the bushes. About 15 minutes later, the two individuals returned to the buckets. One of the individuals grabbed the buckets and began walking away. Officer Balgo made contact with the individual and, upon performing a fisheries inspection, Officers Balgo and Graves found 8 undersized sheepshead. The individual also could not be positively identified. He was arrested and taken to the Brevard County Jail. Proper citations were issued.

While on water patrol in the Banana River, Officers Balgo and Graves stopped a personal water craft for violating the slow speed manatee zone. During the vessel stop, Officer Balgo smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the operator. Officer Graves then performed a standardized field sobriety test on the operator, which indicated that the operator’s normal faculties were impaired. The operator was placed under arrest and provided a breath sample at the jail which was recorded at a .186 BAL.

Two men were cited by Lieutenant Lightsey earlier in the year for hunting from the roadway. The men plead and were sentenced to hunting from the right of way and hunting with dogs not properly collared. The fines were $489 and $629 for the two men.




A fish house owner was adjudicated guilty and assessed over $1,000 in fines by a county judge. Officers Dubose and Hallsten had discovered undersized fish and insufficient records earlier in the year at the owner’s business.









Officer Birchfield was working water patrol near Boca Grande Pass and saw a vessel returning from the Gulf with multiple fishing poles and a removable filet station protruding from the vessel. Officer Birchfield stopped the vessel and conducted a fisheries inspection. When asked, the captain said he only caught a couple of snapper. The inspection revealed a 16-inch red grouper, 4 inches under the minimum size limit. The individual was issued a criminal citation for undersized red grouper.


Officer Sehl responded to a request for assistance from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office at the Interstate 75 bridge. When she arrived on the scene, she saw a naked man who claimed to have been living on the piling for a couple of days. Charlotte County deputies identified the man as one on which they had an open case for arrest. The man was eventually convinced to board Officer Sehl’s vessel so he could be transported to shore, but the man repeatedly threatened to jump overboard when officers tried to handcuff him. After the man tried to jump from the boat, the officers used their taser on him to gain control of the situation and get the man handcuffed. The officers handcuffed the man and delivered him to a nearby boat ramp where he was evaluated by medical personnel, and then turned over to the Sheriff’s Department.




After completing vessel patrol near Apollo Beach, Officer Martinez stopped by a small fishing dock to do some resource inspections. Officer Martinez approached an individual who he saw fishing and asked if he had any fish. The subject stated he didn’t and gave Officer Martinez permission to check the cooler in the back of his truck. After checking the cooler, Officer Martinez asked about another cooler inside the truck. The subject grabbed the cooler, opened it and, in doing so, accidently revealed a syringe. Officer Martinez asked what the syringe was when suddenly the subject threw it towards the water. Officer Martinez attempted to restrain the subject when he pulled away from him and began throwing more items from the cooler. The subject pulled away from Officer Martinez’s grip again and continued to disobey his orders. After subduing and handcuffing the subject, it was later found that the subject was in possession of drug paraphernalia, numerous different pills not prescribed to him, and the syringe he threw had methamphetamine in it. The cooler also contained knives that were concealed. The subject was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail on numerous felony and misdemeanor charges.


While on water patrol near Apollo Beach, Officers Baker, Martinez and Gonzales stopped a vessel violating a slow speed zone. As the officers approached, the male operator switched positions with a female occupant. The officers noticed numerous signs of impairment and he tried denying he was driving. The officers asked if he would perform field sobriety tasks and he refused. Based on their observations, the officers arrested the subject for BUI. The subject also refused to give a sample of his breath. It was later learned that the subject was on felony probation, as well, and he was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail.


While on water patrol at the Skyway Bridge, Lieutenants Laskowski and Van Trees approached a vessel displaying a dive flag to conduct a resource inspection. The inspection revealed that one of the two occupants on board had speared 13 mangrove snapper. The subject stated that he thought the bag limit was 10 per person and that he was getting the limit for both people since they both had fishing licenses. The subject was told the bag limit is five and he could not get another person’s bag limit, especially since the second subject wasn’t even participating in fishing. The subject was issued a notice to appear citation for his violations.


Lieutenant Holcomb, Officers Gaudion and Dearborn were on water patrol in the late-evening hours. They saw an individual cast netting along a shoreline. The officers hid their vessel and watched the individual from a concealed location until he returned to his cooler. The officers approached the subject and conducted a fisheries inspection. Lieutenant Holcomb saw a blanket covering what appeared to be a large fish. He removed the blanket and located a 39.5-inch snook that the subject admitted to catching in his cast net. The subject was charged with possession of snook during the closed season, snook taken by illegal method, and possession of oversized snook.




Officer Furbay saw several males cleaning fish near a public boat ramp and approached them to see what they had. As he spoke with the men, he saw several fish in a cooler which appeared to be legal. One of the men handed him a bag of fish claiming he had caught them the day before, and was only there to give the fish to his brother. Inside the bag was an undersized redfish and an undersized sheepshead. Officer Furbay educated the man on the fishing regulations and issued a misdemeanor notice to appear for the violations.


Officers Stanley and Winton were on water patrol in the Gulf of Mexico when they saw a fishing vessel coming in from offshore waters. The officers stopped the vessel to conduct a resource inspection. While on board, Officer Winton discovered an undersized red snapper and a plastic bag containing a red snapper head, a lane snapper head, and cut chunks of red snapper. The captain of the vessel told the officers a barracuda had eaten the fish, but the remains had defined edges and fillet marks that were consistent with being cut with a knife. The captain was issued a citation for the undersized snapper and failure to land reef fish in whole condition.


Officer Bradshaw and Lieutenant Barrett were on water patrol near Matanzas Pass when they stopped a boat to conduct a safety equipment inspection. During the stop, the officers saw the operator displaying several signs of impairment. After conducting standardized field sobriety tasks, the operator was arrested for BUI and booked into the Lee County Jail.




Officer Davidson was on land patrol when he received a call that a group of individuals were cast netting game fish. Officer Davidson found the subjects in the City of Palmetto cast netting fish out of the ponds in a residential neighborhood. Upon completion of his fisheries inspection, Officer Davidson found that one of the fisherman had cast netted several largemouth bass and blue gill. The subject was cited criminally for taking game fish by illegal method and must appear in court for his violation.


Officers Davidson, Dalton, Lieutenant Hinds and Captain Carpenter were on water patrol around Long Boat Pass when they performed a boating safety inspection on a vessel near Jew Fish Key. During the inspection, the officers had reason to believe that the operator of the vessel was under the influence of alcohol. The operator was given field sobriety tasks and it was determined that the operator’s faculties were impaired beyond normal function. The operator was placed into custody for BUI of alcohol and taken to the Manatee County Jail.


Officer Davidson and Lieutenant Hinds were on water patrol in the Manatee River. While on patrol, they performed a boating safety inspection on a vessel near the mouth of the Braden River. During the inspection, the officers had reason to believe that the operator of the vessel was under the influence of alcohol. The operator was given field sobriety tasks and it was determined that the operator’s faculties were impaired beyond normal function. The operator was placed into custody for BUI of alcohol and taken to the Manatee County Jail.


Multiple officers were on water patrol in Long Boat Pass and Jew Fish Key performing fisheries inspections and boating safety inspections. During the inspections, the officers issued three criminal citations for possession of undersized red grouper, one warning for undersized red snapper, and one operator was placed into custody for BUI of alcohol and taken to the Manatee County Jail.




While on water patrol, Lieutenants VanTrees and Laskowski saw a vessel under the Skyway Bridge displaying a dive flag. They initiated a resource inspection and one of the individuals on board said he had been spear fishing and the second individual was only there to operate the boat. The inspection revealed 14 speared mangrove snapper. One of the individuals said he speared all the fish and thought the bag limit was 10 per person. He was given a copy of the fishing regulations and informed the bag limit for mangrove snapper was 5 per person. He was issued a citation for possession of over the bag limit of mangrove snapper.


Officer Larosa was on land patrol when he saw an individual catch a snook. The individual placed the snook on some rocks in the sun near where he had been fishing. A second individual pointed out Officer Larosa’s presence. Officer Larosa approached the two individuals and initiated a resource inspection. She advised them to release the snook because it was caught during a closed season. The two individuals demonstrated no sense of urgency when attempting to release the fish. After being instructed to release the fish, they walked back to their vehicle, picked up a cast net, and threw the net a few times. During this, the condition of the snook deteriorated and by the time the two individuals attempted to release the fish, it was not able to be released alive. Since the individuals made no immediate attempt to release the snook, greatly reducing its chance of survival, the individual who caught the snook was cited for possession of a snook during closed season.


Lieutenant Laskowski and Officer Ludtke were on water patrol conducting boating safety inspections at Bunces Pass. The officers saw a vessel operator tilt his motor up, rev the engine, and attempt to spray a nearby vessel with water. While this was taking place, one of the passengers associated with the vessel was hanging off the side of the vessel in the water near the stern of the vessel. The vessel was stopped for improper display of registration and a subsequent boating safety inspection took place. During the inspection, Officer Ludtke detected signs of impairment from the operator. After conducting seated standardized field sobriety tasks, the operator was placed under arrest for BUI. He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail.


Officer Pettifer was conducting safety inspections at the Belleair Boat Ramp when he saw an individual pull up to the dock on a pontoon boat. Upon tying up the vessel, the individual proceeded to urinate off the end of the dock in plain view of everyone else at the ramp. Upon contacting the individual, Officer Pettifer could smell alcohol on his breath and a subsequent vessel safety inspection revealed further signs of impairment. Officer Pettifer conducted seated field sobriety tasks and determined the individual had been operating his vessel while impaired. The individual was taken to Pinellas County Jail where he provided a breath and urine sample. He was cited with operating a vessel while normal faculties were impaired.


While on water patrol near the Maximo Boat Ramp in St. Petersburg, Officers Bibler and Rivard saw a jet ski driving erratically and shouting at them incoherently, while returning to the dock. The officers approached and immediately saw signs of impairment. The officers conducted field sobriety tasks with the individual and determined he was BUI. The subject refused to give a sample of his breath and was booked into the Pinellas County Jail.


While on water patrol near Treasure Island, Officer Bibeau and Lieutenant Van Trees saw a vessel operating on plane in a slow speed zone. The officers stopped the vessel to address the violation and noticed signs of impairment from the operator. They conducted field sobriety tasks with the individual and determined he was BUI. The subject refused to give a sample of his breath and was booked into the Pinellas County Jail.


Officer Bibeau and Lieutenant Van Trees stopped another vessel in the Treasure Island area that was packed with people, empty beer cans, trash, and pool furniture. The vessel’s occupants were heading home from a sandbar party when the officers stopped them. The officers saw signs of impairment from the operator and conducted field sobriety tasks with him. It was determined the operator was impaired and BUI. The subject refused to give a sample of his breath and was booked into the Pinellas County Jail for BUI.


While on water patrol at Pass-a-Grille Channel, Officer Bibeau and Lieutenant Van Trees stopped a vessel with numerous individuals on board that they later discovered were all under the legal drinking age of 21. The operator and owner of the vessel admitted to having alcohol on the vessel and, after dumping numerous bottles of liquor out, was issued a notice to appear for a minor in possession of alcohol.


Lieutenant Holcomb and Officer Dearborn were conducting fisheries inspections in south Pinellas County. They saw two individuals standing under a bridge and filleting fish. Upon inspection, Lieutenant Holcomb located a 21.5-inch snook, five undersized mangrove snapper and an undersized sheepshead. All the fish were harvested with a cast net. The subject in possession was charged with possession of snook during a closed season, snook taken by illegal method, possession of undersized snook, and possession of undersized mangrove snapper. The subject was warned for the undersized sheepshead.




Officers Ridgway, Hughes, Investigator O’Horo and Captain Carpenter were on water patrol in New Pass Inlet. While on patrol, they performed a boating safety inspection on a vessel near the New Pass Bridge. During the inspection, the officers had reason to believe that the operator of the vessel was under the influence of alcohol. The operator was given field sobriety tasks and it was determined that the operator’s faculties were impaired beyond normal function. The operator was placed into custody for BUI of alcohol and taken to the Sarasota County Jail.







Officers and investigators participated in a boating safety campaign “Operation Dry Water.” It is a campaign launched in 2009 by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the USCG. The goal is to raise awareness to the hazards of BUI of alcohol and drugs by using education and enforcement.




Investigator Patterson located a vessel operator and conducted field sobriety tests. The operator was subsequently booked into the Martin County Jail and charged with BUI. The vessel operator had a blood alcohol level of 0.108.




Officer Hankinson responded to a vessel capsizing in the Jupiter Inlet. The vessel was removed and no occupants were injured.


Captain Jones, Lieutenants Russo, Ornold and several officers searched for a missing boater that fell overboard from a vessel near the Lake Worth Inlet. The USCG, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and local police departments were involved in the search. Investigator Fowler of FWC is investigating the boating accident.


The FWC was notified about and responded to a boating accident at the Old Port Cove Marina. Responding officers and investigators were informed that a male subject was cleaning the bottom of a vessel at the Old Port Cove Marina and was sucked into the starboard bow thruster. His body was retrieved from the bottom by a Good Samaritan. Next of kin notification was made by the North Palm Police Department.




Officers Brodbeck, Payne and Investigator Patterson were dispatched to a complaint regarding individuals trespassing and keeping snook at the Belcher Canal spillway. The spillway is currently undergoing some renovations and is posted as a No Trespassing construction site. Upon arrival, they saw six subjects fishing inside the 8-foot, chain-link fence. Upon seeing the officers, one subject attempted to flee, but then changed his mind and sat down on the rocks. The other five were instructed to reel in their fishing lines and come to the top of the embankment. A search of the area revealed two oversized and out-of-season snook. When asked about the snook, all subjects denied catching the fish. All subjects were charged with trespass and four were additionally charged with harvest of oversized snook and possession of snook out of season.


Officers Miano and Irwin were on water patrol late one evening when they saw a vessel underway without proper navigation lights. A vessel stop and contact with the individuals on board revealed that all subjects appeared to be intoxicated. Contact with the operator and subsequent field sobriety tasks confirmed the officers’ suspicions. The subject was arrested for BUI and taken to jail. The vessel was towed to a local boat ramp where a sober individual was called in to assist and take control of the vessel and other subjects.


While at the Fort Pierce Inlet State Park on stationary patrol utilizing a radar unit, Investigator Turner obtained a target speed of forty-three in a posted twenty-five mph zone. Subsequent to a vehicle stop, the vehicle operator was issued citations for operating a motor vehicle with: (1) Suspended Driver License without knowledge; (2) Expired Tag; and (3) No Insurance. Investigator Turner seized the operator’s suspended driver license, and told the operator he could not operate a motor vehicle without a valid driver license. Approximately fifteen minutes later, Investigator Turner saw the same vehicle being operated by the same subject within the state park. Investigator Turner stopped the vehicle and booked the operator into the St. Lucie County Jail for driving while license suspended or revoked with knowledge.






Officers were busy during the four-day Fourth of July holiday weekend when hundreds of vessels and contacts were made with the public. Boating safety and violations of vessel speed while operating in manatee zones were also addressed. Multiple citations and warnings were issued.






Officers Cobo and Morrow instructed a boating safety and fishing class to campers at the Tanah Keeta Boy Scout Camp in Tequesta. The campers were educated on safety equipment, fishing regulations, water safety and were given the opportunity to ask questions.









FWC officers participated in the Nationwide Operation Dry Water safe boating campaign during the weekend. Operation Dry Water focuses on enforcing and educating the public about BUI laws and safe boating practices. During the operation, FWC officers performed 570 vessel inspections, checked 2,336 users, issued 238 boating citations, arrested 15 suspects for BUI, and issued 112 boating-related warnings.




Officer Rubenstein watched two individuals spear fishing from shore at Sunshine Key. When they came to shore, Officer Rubenstein made contact with them. One individual was in possession of multiple fish on a stringer, including 2 undersized black grouper which the individual admitted to shooting, stating he thought they were big enough. The individual was cited accordingly.


During Operation Dry Water, Officer Mattson was fueling his boat at a local marina when he saw a rental boat returning for the day. Several people were sleeping on the boat and the operator almost crashed into the dock. The rental attendant had to fend the boat off in order to prevent damage. Officer Mattson approached the suspect and recognized slurred speech, watery, glassy bloodshot eyes and saw several empty alcohol bottles. Officer Mattson asked the man twice if he would perform some field sobriety tasks. The man refused, was placed under lawful arrest, and also refused to provide a breath sample. He was taken to jail for BUI.



Officer Garrison and Investigator Munkelt were in plain clothes and in an unmarked vessel on the bayside of the 78 MM when an individual waved them down. Investigator Munkelt moved the patrol vessel to the individual. Once beside the individual, he asked Officer Garrison if he could use a net that was visible in the back of the unmarked patrol vessel. The individual stated that he saw some lobster and wanted to catch them. Officer Garrison explained to the individual that the lobster were out of season and he could get in trouble for catching them. The individual persisted in his attempts to have the net after being told 5 times that he could get in trouble for the lobster. The individual then stated “It’s only illegal if I get caught.” Officer Garrison then handed the individual the net. The individual proceeded to catch one spiny lobster, showed it to his son and then released the lobster unharmed. The individual gave the net back to Officer Garrison and then proceeded to swim around the area. Investigator Munkelt and Officer Garrison then drifted a short distance away and saw the same individual. After a short time, the individual returned to shore with his family. He then packed his car but returned to the water and retrieved a queen conch from the water’s edge and placed it under his car. Officer Garrison and Investigator Munkelt approached the individual and as they were close, the individual placed the conch in the back of the car. Officer Garrison identified himself as a law enforcement officer and asked to see the conch and the individual agreed. An inspection of the conch shell revealed a live queen conch inside. The individual admitted to harvesting the conch and stated that he put it in the car so no one else would take it. The individual was cited for harvesting queen conch.


Investigator D. Munkelt and Garrison were in plain clothes on water patrol in an unmarked vessel on the bayside of the west end of the Channel 5 Bridge. They saw an individual in the water with a mask, snorkel and fins and he was not displaying a dive flag. Investigator Munkelt operated the patrol vessel while watching the diver through binoculars. After approximately 5 minutes, the diver exited the water holding a yellow pole spear. The officers approached the diver and asked him if he had caught anything and he stated that he had. The officers could see a blue mesh bag in the shallow water next to shore. The officers asked him what he had caught and he stated some lobster. The officers identified themselves and asked the individual to show them the lobster, and the diver handed over the blue mesh bag. Upon inspection of the mesh bag, it contained 15 spiny lobster and 2 live rocks. Upon inspection of the lobster, all 15 showed signs of being punctured and 13 were undersized. The diver was placed under arrest and transported to the Marathon Jail. He was charged with harvesting spiny lobster out of season, harvesting spiny lobster by spearing them, spearfishing in the upper keys, possession of undersized spiny lobster, no measuring device, and possession of live rock and was issued an infraction for no dive flag.






Officers Yurewitch, Johnson, and Osorio responded to a Marine Emergency Response Team alert about a boating accident with injuries in the Marco River. Officers Johnson and Osorio waded through the water to the grounded vessel to assess the extent of the injuries and provide first aid. The officers helped secure the victim to a stretcher and waded back to an EMS vessel to transport the victim to an ambulance. Officers Yurewitch and Johnson waded back to the vessel to collect information and make sure the other passengers on the vessel were safe. Officer Reams met the victim at the hospital and collected information.




Officer Mobley and Lieutenant Haney were on water patrol during Operation Dry Water and were traveling through Tavernier Creek when they saw a vessel come around a curve at a high rate of speed, lose control, and crash into the mangroves. There were 4 people on board and one was ejected into the water. During the crash investigation, the operator showed signs of impairment and after the officers conducted a BUI investigation, he was arrested and charged with BUI resulting in a crash with property damage. The operator submitted to a breath test which measured .063 g/210 L of breath. The officers saw signs of drug use and the operator admitted to smoking marijuana prior to the crash. He refused to submit to a urine test and refused to submit to a drug influence evaluation. In addition to the BUI and refusal to submit to the urine test, the operator was charged with two violations causing the accident and two more boating safety equipment violations.






In the early morning, a car with a broken taillight was pulled over by a Monroe County Sherriff’s deputy. He contacted the FWC when he discovered endangered Key deer bound with heavy twine in the vehicle. When officers Wagner and Rubenstein arrived on the scene, they found two struggling, hogtied Key deer in the back seat and another in the trunk of the car. Law enforcement backup arrived along with a USFWS officer and they worked quickly to document the scene, gather evidence, safely untie and evaluate the endangered animals. In order to prevent further stress to the deer, all three were released back into the wild. Two of the deer ran off, and wellness checks are being conducted by USFWS on the third. The two men in the vehicle were arrested on multiple charges, including felonies and misdemeanors for injuring an endangered species, taking deer out of season and animal cruelty. Their vehicle and cell phones were seized as evidence and they were booked into the Monroe County Jail.






Officers Richards and Foell, along with NOAA Officers Widener and Robb were patrolling the East Hump, a marine protected area surrounding Marathon on board the OPV “Interceptor.” While on patrol, the officers performed a resource inspection on a vessel fishing for dolphin. The inspection revealed ten undersized dolphin on board and the subject was cited accordingly. Later during their same patrol, the officers saw a vessel with deep-drop fishing gear. A fisheries inspection revealed commercial quantities of blueline tilefish, and an out of season snowy grouper for commercial harvest. The subject claimed he was commercial fishing, but only possessed a saltwater products license and no federal commercial permits. The NOAA officers documented the violations.






Officers Janzen, Larios, Maldonado, McKay, Rafter and FHP troopers assisted the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office with the annual 4th of July parade along US 1 in Key Largo. They provided traffic assistance and answered questions from the public. Officers Dube and Steinmetz pulled an FWC vessel in the parade, and the officers passed out candy and treats to the onlookers while the crew aboard the patrol vessel sprayed the crowds with their water soakers and squirt guns.